So you guys have probably heard about the whole KITT-Napping hoax.
To summarize, at a promo event in Toronto, some guy B-Lined it out from the audience and drove off with the new KITT from the forthcoming Knight Rider series. People thought it was a real thing but it turned out to be a stunt set up by E! Entertaiment as a contest to win the car. After watching the first episode of the series that’s now available on Hulu and Amazon Unbox, I kinda wish that the heist was real…and that he smashed the damn thing into a tree.
More after the jump. It contains spoilers but trust me, you’ll thank me later.
Okay, so for those that didn’t see the TV Movie earlier this year, here’s the gist of it: Mike Traceur, an ex-Iraq vet, turns out to be the son of the original Michael Knight and finds himself behind the wheel of the Knight Industries Three-Thousand or the “new” KITT. After saving his ex girlfriend, Sarah, from a group of terrorists that were hellbent on stealing the new car, Sarah’s father resurrects the Foundation for Law And Government (FLAG). With the aid of lesbian FBI agent, Carrie (No I’m not trying to be an ass and point that out, the promotional material REALLY likes to emphasize this) and new crew, Mike, Sarah, and KITT are set to take down evil…and so on.
Now you’re probably thinking “Holy shit! New Knight Rider! This’ll be badass!”, the same way I was when I got wind of it. The promotional materials and the videos all made it seem like this was what KR fans have been wanting since the news of the first movie attempt. Bearing that in mind, it is with great displeasure that I must inform you all that after viewing just ONE episode of the new Knight Rider, I’m left resisting the urge to take a bus downtown tomorrow during rush hour and lie down in the middle of the intersection.
Why? Well before this starts to look like one of the many negative rants that are popping up online right now, I can tell you that it’s not because of the car.
As much as I love the Trans-Am, the Mustang Shelby grew on me a bit and Attack KITT is kinda cool…save for the unnecessary blower. Seriously. when you watch the first episode, it’s like the only reason that it’s there is to give the camera an entry way to do a Fast and the Furious-styled engine zoom around. It doesn’t help either that there’s a big “KR” on the bottom of KITT as opposed to clear view of the suspension and the under-bits, nor does the transformation capabilities. Look, NBC, I know you had a boner for Transformers when it came out but why does KITT need to randomly turn into a truck? Yes, Ford is sponsoring the show but WHY? *sigh*
(Then again, I’m the guy who loved Super Pursuit Mode so feel free to call my taste into question.)
Moving on from that, the cast is alright. Sidney Potier is awesome in this as Carrie but I’m calling it now that they’re going to play up her lesbianism come time for sweeps. Mike himself is actually pretty solid so far with Val Kilmer’s KITT playing the perfect foil for him. The comic relief tech support team was somewhat funny but the only problem I have here is Sarah whose character REALLY doesn’t need to be there. Yes, you’re hot, you’ve got talent, but Knight Rider is supposed to be a “shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a man who does not exist”; The man was a lone wolf with occasional glimpses of a proper relationship and even then, it was occasional…because she ended up dead after a few episodes. I’m not saying that girls aren’t allowed in the clubhouse but the way things are going, I can guarantee that Sarah going to end up being fanservice baggage for our hero with bouts of “network nudity” with occasional sideboob. And that, loyal reader is a damn shame. Not in the Guy Logic sense that we’re not seeing “everything”, it’s a shame because of what she’s going to be reduced to unless the writers do something about it.
Speaking of writers, whoever wrote this episode needs to be fired or at least have a DAMN good explanation behind this slow-paced/disjointed bullshit of a premiere. Here’s the premise: Some guy encodes the end-all codebreaking cipher into his DNA and, of course, is on the run from the people who very much want him alive. FLAG get brought in and somehow the people they’re up against are very familiar with Mike who has no clue who the hell these people are. Seems basic enough right? It’d be fine if it weren’t for the fact that NOTHING HAPPENS. The entire episode serves as setup for the rest of the season but is incredibly disjointed and not to mention, ridiculously bad, even for Knight Rider standards.
Examples of How Messed Up This Episode Is:
1.) When on the way out from Random Foreign Consulate, Mike and Sarah hop into KITT for what looks like a clean getaway. This turns out to be just the opposite as a helicopter launches a missile that somehow is locked on to Mike’s DNA and is tracking him. The missile hits and a’splodes, KITT being able to take the brunt of the blow. However, this leaves the entire car covered in a new type of Napalm that can’t be put out by conventional means and has to burn out on its own.
This of course means that the inside of the car is heating up fast and if they can’t put out the fire, Mike and Sarah’s bodily fluids will fry them from the inside. The solution? Quick Sarah! Strip out of your already revealing dress down to your sexy Victoria’s Secret lingerie! Mike! Take off your clothes and reveal your manly pecks! Your very lives depend on it!
Desperation move, much?
2.) The human cipher has been kidnapped by Sterotypical Hot Badass Latina No. 47 and Mike is hot on her trail with KITT. This is the moment we’ve been waiting for, a badass car chase with hope for Turbo Boost action. All could be forgiven here, right?
The end result: An Exposition Cruise Down The Highway.
See the look on Mike’s face there? Both he and us as an audience were expecting a car chase and a fight. Instead, we’re treated to exposition and of course, the first of many Relationship Angst Moments. Hell, I think this may be the first ever angst-ridden car chase in television history. C’mon! This is freaking Knight Rider! Chase the villain down, get in a fist fight, and save the day, Mike! And by fist fight, I don’t mean spat with your girlfriend who suddenly looks like she’s stoned.
And aside from those two moments, NOTHING ELSE HAPPENS. The climax of the episode is Mike getting shot in front of Sterotypical Hot Badass Latina No. 47 by Carrie to fake his death so he can become the new Michael Knight. There, I saved you an hour. Go out and read a book or something.
Okay, before I’m accused of being an uncultured fanboy here, let me say that I do appreciate dramatic elements when done right. I also know that payoffs need to be set up sparingly in order to make them worthwhile lest you risk pulling a Stepehen Sommerfield. However, I think one of the reviews for the pilot put it best when saying that Knight Rider isn’t supposed to be deep and involved. Look, it’s a guy with a talking indestructible car that solves crimes and gets into car chases, a high tech Dukes of Hazzard for crying out loud. There is no way in hell that you can screw up a winning formula like that and yet, with the span of one episode, they did. The car chase is just a cruise down the highway with some mild traffic and 85% of the episode is needless angst. I mean, why do we need all this intrigue about his “true past” in the first place? Why can’t The ‘Hoff just show up already, punch the brat into submission and show him how it’s really done with this badass metal cover of the theme playing?
..Okay I drifted off point with that last bit you get what I’m saying right? If this new Knight Rider wants to succeed, the staff need to seriously realize that they’re having an identity crisis here and need to ease back on the throttle before they jump the shark. The love interest/romantic drama slows the show down to a crawl, especially knowing that we’re going to get tons of “Mike! How could you be with Hot Girl of the Week!?” moments. The mystery about Mike’s past? Better be resolved in three episodes or else I’m walking. That’s right, I’ve called in my Five Episode Rule. Don’t ask me why but I think you have it in you to turn it around.
My message to the writers/producers: Look, you’ve done something awesome here. You got freaking KNIGHT RIDER back on television! That deserves some applause and drinks all around. My treat. Nevertheless, you need to get it through your thick skulls that that you can just be a non-stop action show. It’s possible to just go back to the old award-winning formula without much effort. Get it? You DON’T have to do what all the “cool kids” are doing on television these days (*coughcoughLOSTANDHEROEScoughcough*) with this whole “Metric Ton O’ Mysteries” crap that just serves as an excuse for not being able to tell a decent story.
Don’t give me that excuse that you’re trying to bring in the new generation of fans either. You know DAMN well that the older fans who grew up watching the original are a huge chunk of the demographic. At this rate, you’re going to pull a Michael Bay and alienate the people who you really want to have like this. Even then, if the younger fans actually LIKE this crap, I weep for the future.
Realize what you are and stick to it or else you’re going to royally fuck this up. Trust me, you know you don’t want to end up like Flash Gordon.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m buying a box set of the original.